As part of her duties as ESPN’s news editor for the morning edition of the popular “SportsCenter” program, Sarah Hart keeps her ear to the ground for intriguing minor-league promotions.
“I love minor-league baseball so I reach out to all the teams and tell them to send me their best stuff,” Hart said.
Each week, one or two MiLB promotions are privy to the ESPN treatment in a segment that’s called the Minor League Promotion of the Week. This coming Saturday morning will see the summer’s hottest promotion at McCoy Stadium go national – per the request of ESPN’s production crew, says Hart.
“There’s a whole lot of lot of Boston fans and the concept is so cool,” said Hart, speaking about the Pawtucket Red Sox changing their name for one night to the Pawtucket Hot Wieners. “This was one that was very much requested by the staff.”
There are two possible windows for the Hot Wieners gear to be featured on Saturday – either 8:55 a.m. or 9:55 a.m. The Saturday morning SportsCenter anchors will each have their own Hot Wieners jersey and authentic, on-field cap to hold up and display.
If you’re the PawSox, the scheduled rendezvous on ESPN could be chalked up to perfect timing, as the Pawtucket Hot Wieners and all that it encompasses hits the field at McCoy on Thursday, Aug. 16.
“It’s a great plug,” said Joe Bradlee, PawSox Director of Communications/Community Relations.
The idea of minor-league teams going under a different guise for one evening isn’t a new one. From fellow International League members Buffalo, who for obvious reasons became identified as “Buffalo Wings” for a game in June, to the Syracuse Chiefs renamed as “Syracuse Salt Potatoes” to the Rochester Red Wings shifting to “Rochester Garbage Plates,” the template was set for the PawSox to get creative.
“We wanted to come up with something that identified with Pawtucket and all of Rhode Island,” said Brooke Coderre, PawSox Director of Marketing and Merchandising.
Pawtucket isn’t a beach destination, thus that suggestion was quickly brushed aside. “Pawtucket Del’s Lemonade” or “Pawtucket Coffee Milks” didn’t jive. When the case for hot wieners was presented during a PawSox front-office staff meeting earlier this year, the response was … hot.
“It was something that our staff from Rhode Island and not from Rhode Island could get behind. The Rhode Islanders were like, ‘This is awesome! This is going to be a hit!’ Staff members from out of state were, ‘That’s just cool anyway,'” Coderre said. “It proved to be an easy choice.”
Several mock drafts were made for the Pawtucket Hot Wieners logo before the sports-marketing company Brandiose brought it to life with an image that resonated on several levels. The primary logo that’s featured on the caps the PawSox players and coaches will don on Aug. 16 depicts a hot wiener done all the way – a popular Rhode Island term. You can see the meat sauce, mustard, and onions. If you look hard enough, you’ll find streaks of celery salt.
The accompanying flames speak to the food’s spicy nature – or perhaps the heartburn that ensues after ingesting a few too many?
“We were looking for something fun and something that appeals to our fan’s civic pride,” Coderre said. “A lot of times what you’re finding with the minor-league teams is that fans take such pride because it does hit so close to home. They’re going to a game in their backyard. It’s about fun and family entertainment. That’s why we wanted to come up with something that helps us stay true to our roots.”
From jerseys to t-shirts to polo shirts to sweatshirts to caps – the options are on-field fitted, adjustable, and flex fit – that are available for men, women, youth, and toddlers, there’s no shortage of baseball-themed swag with Pawtucket Hot Wieners emblazoned on it. Right now, demand is far exceeding supply and that’s pretty much been the case since the grand unveiling the night of June 23. The very next morning when Coderre checked the overnight order transition log, she was pleasantly surprised to find 50 orders for Hot Wieners paraphernalia.
That same day – June 24 – McCoy’s in-house merchandise shop was completely stocked with a wide variety of Hot Wieners attire. It was clear the people liked what they saw – orders started queuing up faster than an Olneyville New York System cook can line up a dozen wieners on his left arm.
From June 24 through July 2, the PawSox received 500 online orders spanning 37 states for this ode to a unique food delicacy. As of this past weekend, the number of states has grown to 45.
In addition to the PawSox wearing Hot Wieners caps and jerseys, the team plans to invite a number of local food trucks to set up shop outside Mondor Way – located just outside the main entrance at McCoy – to sell their tasty products. The first 50 fans to enter the ballpark wearing their Hot Wieners merchandise will have the option to enter a Hot Wiener eating contest. The winner will receive a Pawtucket Hot Wieners Prize Pack.
Other fun activities scheduled for next Thursday will include fans with Dachshunds being invited for a hot wiener (dog) parade before the game. Right now, 30 fans who have that particular breed of dog have signed up with more spots available. There will also be an in-game poll in which fans can voice their favorite way to order a hot wiener – all the way, naked, with sauce and salt.
“We hope Rhode Islanders enjoy this opportunity to have a little fun when we take the field on August 16 as the Pawtucket Hot Wieners,” said PawSox Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing Rob Crain.
If the concept has caught ESPN’s fancy, it’s clear that what’s on deck at McCoy Stadium next Thursday is not to be missed.
DON’T MISS THE NEXT PAWSOX GAME ON YURVIEW – FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH – AT 7 P.M. YURVIEW IS COX CHANNELS 4 AND 1004 HD.